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Black History Month Menu/Choice Boards

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Keywords: Essay Writing, Podcasting, Black History Month, Research
Subject(s): Civics, English/Language Arts, Social Studies, Reading, Writing, History
Grades 5 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Wilmington Middle School, Wilmington, OH
Planned By: Karen Long
Original Author: Karen Long, Wilmington
1. Gather students together to explain the significance of Black History Month. Generate enthusiasm by sharing stories, personal testimony and experience, making connections to your studentsí lives and to their community, and a sense of wonder and inquiry into the topic.
2. Share lots of models of all aspects of the project. For example, share a song from the Civil Rights movement and explain what it has to say about freedom. Share an essay written by a young person from the This I Believe website. Share models of Choose Your Own Adventure. Be sure that students know how to find mentor projects and other experts who have done this kind of creative work.
3. Students can begin at any place in the menu board (see the following page), especially advanced learners. You may want to guide learners who need more support to begin podcasting text that is already written, such as a poem or song lyrics or short story.
4. Students can do a combination of all of the projects or just one or two of the projects. Likewise values can be assigned to each project. Advanced learners can go as far as they can, challenging themselves to dig deeper into their research and into their projects, as well as move on to the next project when they are ready.
5. You may choose to use the rubrics (see page 3 of the lesson plan) and modify them as needed.
6.Each project can take a day, with lots of teacher directed steps (such as handing out the poem that you want students to record), or the menu board could be used for a week to a month.

Materials Needed: podcasting equipment, website access, and other reference materials for research

Choose at least one of the following. Create a podcast recording a great piece of writing that you find in your research written by an African American.
1. Poem/Song
2. Short Story
3. Speech

Choose one of the following. Write a 350-500 word essay about what you believe about one of the following ideas. Be ready to record a podcast of your essay. You may choose to post the essay on our class This I Believe website or submit your essay to the official This I Believe website. Look at that website (http://thisibelieve.org/) for examples of other essays written and recorded by young people.
1. Freedom
2. Overcoming Adversity
3. Hope

Research one of the following time periods and write your own Choose Your Own Historical Adventure. Use the Choose Your Own Adventures at http://www.webpagestation.com/podcasting/tfpod/podcasts?subject=79as a mentor text for your work.

1. The Underground Railroad and escape from slavery
2. The Civil Rights Movement

Think about the people and stories that you read about during your time period research. Select one of those African American and find out more about them. Create an interview format with the person who you found out more about and record the interview. Resources to find Great African Americans:

Considersharing about:
1. What contribution did this person make to society?
2. What kind of adversity did this person overcome?
3. What important choices did this person make during their life?
4. What/who influenced this personís life?

Select a freedom song from today or from the Civil Rights Movement and tell what the HOT TOPIC of freedom is in the song.
Civil Rights Today 2011


Podcast of Song/Poem/Speech/Short Story
o Read with fluency
o Read with interesting tone

This I Believe Essay and Podcast
o Essay expresses a belief in freedom, overcoming adversity or hope
o Essay is written with a clear focus and organized presentation of ideas
o Essay includes a personal anecdote
o Essay begins with an lead that interests the listener
o Essay is 2-3 minutes in length
o Essay is read with fluency
o Essay is read with interesting tone

Choose Your Own Historical Fiction Adventure
o Story contains accurate historical facts.
o Story gives the reading interesting choices to choose when moving through the adventure.
o Story is read with fluency and an interesting tone of voice.

Podcast Interview
o Interview is interesting and engaging
o Interview teaches listeners about the life of the person being interviewed
o Interview sounds like a conversation between two people

Freedom Song
o Song selected expresses ideal of freedom
o Podcast includes song and an explanation of the freedom it expresses
Materials: Microphones, Headsets